Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s deeply personal essay explores racial conflict through the prism of his childhood and the influence of his father, a police officer who walked the beat between two worlds.
Growing up in New York City in the 1950s and 1960s, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar listened to jazz, watched Jackie Robinson at Ebbets Field, and saw a Black pop-culture icon in a TV western. It kick-started Kareem’s interest in a rich history erased by white educators. It also sparked his activism. During these years, as Kareem struggled with racism, visibility, and justice, his father’s presence loomed large with purpose. He was a Black cop weathering a complicated conflict of loyalties during the most tumultuous civil rights upheaval the country had ever been through. Now, at a time when his powerful voice is needed the most, Kareem shares his unique perspective from the front lines of sixty years of social change, not just as an activist, but as a son, an athlete, a writer, and a Black man in America.